Basin Head MPA


Basin Head is located on the eastern tip of Prince Edward Island, approximately 100 kilometres east of Charlottetown, between the town of Souris and the community of East Point. Basin Head harbour is a small estuarine lagoon surrounded by agricultural land to the north and by an extensive sand dune system to the south.

Click image to enlarge.

Click image to enlarge.


Photo Credit: Perry Williams

Basin Head is a shallow coastal lagoon located on the eastern tip of Prince Edward Island, near the town of Souris. The lagoon is surrounded by both agricultural land and an extensive sand dune system. Approximately 5 kilometres long, Basin Head is a unique coastal environment that the community, conservation organizations, and both levels of government are working towards protecting for generations to come.

There are many different types of animal and plant life in the area. Most notable is a unique type of Irish moss that may only exist within the boundaries of Basin Head.

Irish moss is a commercially harvested marine plant throughout the Maritimes. The type in Basin Head is unique because it does not attach to the bottom and is significantly larger than the normal plant found elsewhere. As well, it has a higher concentration of carageenan, an important thickening agent in products we use every day, such as ice cream and sunscreen.

Basin Head has attracted the attention of both government and non-government interests for a number of years. Adjacent to the lagoon is the Basin Head Fisheries Museum, which was established in 1973 and displays the rich cultural history of the nearby coastal communities. Based on extensive public and government input and interest, DFO announced the designation of the Basin Head Marine Protected Area (MPA) in October 2005.

To help foster co-operation, the Basin Head Marine Protected Area Advisory Board was created in 2005 to replace the Basin Head Lagoon Ecosystem Conservation Committee. The Advisory Board is comprised of representatives from various stakeholder groups and government including: DFO, provincial departments of Prince Edward Island (PEI), the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation, Eastern Kings Community Council, environmental non-government organizations (ENGOs), conservation groups, academia, First Nations as well as fishing and agriculture industries.

This Advisory Board provides advice and recommendations to DFO on the management and monitoring of the Basin Head MPA including: the conservation and protection of Irish moss and the ecosystem that supports it, public awareness, education and research. An operational management plan was developed in 2009 and is presently being updated by DFO with the support of the Basin Head Marine Protected Area Advisory Board in order to identify the actions required by both government and the community to provide short and long-term protection for the area.

Management & Conservation

Basin Head MPA Management Plan serves as a guide to facilitate informed decisions in the management of the Basin Head ecosystem. Additionally, it addresses matters such as monitoring, enforcement and compliance, and provides the detail required to ensure that the rationale for management decisions, prohibitions, controls and approvals are clearly justified and understood.

Basin Head MPA Management Plan

Basin Head Marine Protected Area Regulations (SOR/2005-293) can be found on the Justice Laws Website.

Activity Applications

In Marine Protected Areas established under the Oceans Act, it is generally prohibited to carry out any activity that disturbs, damages, destroys or removes any living marine organism or any part of its habitat or is likely to do so. Despite this, there are exceptions to the prohibitions. Activities that may be allowed to occur in the Marine Protected Area are listed under the ‘exception’ section of the Marine Protected Area Regulations.

In addition, for most Marine Protected Areas, certain types of activities (e.g., scientific research and monitoring, habitat restoration, commercial marine tourism, and educational activities) may be allowed to occur within the MPA if a proponent submits an activity plan to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The conditions for approval are outlined in the MPA regulations.

Activity plan submission form for Basin Head MPA

Research and Publications
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